Poem: Gloriously Wrong

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Gloriously Wrong

I know what you see.
I have seen it too.
Ruins. Remnants. Remains
of something once vital, once thriving,
full of purpose, a bastion
of commerce and creativity,
vital and bustling and alive,
boats, fresh from the sea,
seafood still writhing in the nets,
fishermen, hands raw, wool caps on their heads,
busy in the last act of the day, the unloading,
the distribution of the day’s catch
before they find their way home
of the closest pub.

Those who have lived close remember.
They can still smell the raw captives,
the desiel oil from old engines.
They can hear the clank of winches
and the dull thump of boats against the docks

that are no longer here.
None of it remains save these singular posts,
the last soldiers in a war of attrition,
victims of a neglect born of busyness,
too much activity, too much to do to maintain
the silent battle against saltwater and time
until the battle was lost,
the bastion abandoned, left
to become what it is this moment.
a monument to what was, and then,
with enough time and neglect,
a vague signpost to what was.

I know what you see.
I see it too.
I have lived it.
I have been those strong piles, driven deep into the earth.
I have been the platform,
the safe haven to tie up to
in times of storm and tides,
treasured and neglected until board by board
the rot won.
I became no more than this you see in front of you
A few final posts in the earth,
not even enough of me that passersby
could know what was once there.
an eyesore,
blocking the view,
dark and half rotten against the sea,
against the sky.

I have come close to the death,
close as skin to washing away,
to devolve from ruin to mist to a vague
memory, and yet now I stand
on new ground,
rebuilt by grace and stubbornness,
at the hand of others,
cheerleaders and historians,
mystics and priests of the God of Second Chances,
I have been reset, deeper still into the earth,
relying not on new foundations, but deeper still
into the soil that birthed me.
I have been built again, fresh cedar, new nails
of zinc and steel,
each day a battle against tide and storm,
two steps forward,
one back,
repeat,
a battle already lost, slowly won again,
won as slowly as it was lost,
a thing without drama,
a daily reminder that dead rarely means dead.
That there is life after life.
Life after rot. after betrayal, after false Gods and
failing,
each new shoring up of your own raw deal
a reminder when you see others
of what can be there,
not the same historical structures that once lived here,
but something new,
worn still, and yet more vital for the resurrection
that almost came.
too late.

I know what you see.
I have seen it too, and
was gloriously wrong.
The dead are not dead,
no matter how they seem.

About this poem

One of the good things about having been broken and rebuilt? You never see others in the same light.

The photograph was taken at the tip of Cape Cod, near Provincetown.

Tom

Poem: Broken Ribs

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Broken Ribs

Your hand slides down the wooden ribs.
There are gaps, far more than mere holes, in the hull.
The wood is rough, at places rotted,
left to weather for a generation
before you brought it here.

The protection in this old shed is minimal.
It is cold and there are gaps in the clapboard.
But still, the roof and walls offer protection,
a slowing of the death
while you begin the work of restoration.

You are not fast in this work. It is new to you
and you are feeling your way, learning the mysteries
of sistering ribs and rope calk.
The roof and walls give you a fighting chance
against the decay of time and weather,

a safe place, imperfect as it is,
a place to undo time
and the damage of neglect.

You have no idea when you will finish,
or if.
That is not the reason you toil
at this invisible and thankless task.
You are aware perfection may not be possible.
The craft is too far gone
and your skills are meager.

But you have been broken yourself
and know the value of safety
and gentle hands. You are aware
that to the broken,
better is worth as much a celebration
as a perfection unattainable.

About this poem

Some breaks never completely heal. True of our spirits and true of our bodies (ask my ribs when a low-pressure front goes through.).  But that is no reason not to celebrate the healing that HAS happened. We are beautiful, scars and all.

The picture was taken at Mystic Seaport.

Tom

Poem: The Shipbuilder’s Persistence

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The Shipbuilder’s Persistence

There is little left,
a bit of flotsam,
a few boards,
the remains of storms

that have left you only wreckage,
hardly enough to imagine
you were once whole,
once able to face oceans
unafraid
and sure.

The storm masters,
full of madness and spite,
full of their own whirlwind of demons,
unable, unwilling to fight
their battles within, unleashed them
on you leaving you battered
and battered
and battered again

until all that was left
was the scars, and fear,
and certainty.

But they, and you yourself
had not figured
on the shipbuilder’s persistence,
and here you stand,
imperfect and battered,
a thing of broken beauty,
ready, again,
to face the sea.

About this poem

We’ve all been broken. Some of us still are.  As long as we refuse to believe we are no more than wreckage, we can find our way to the sea and new adventures.

Tom

Poem: The Almost Dead

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The Almost Dead

Empty.
Abandoned.
Still beautiful.

Waiting
for someone
to bring faith enough

to raise it
from the almost dead.

About this poem.

Maybe you know someone like this. Maybe you are like this. Maybe you’ve been like this in the past. I have.

Never give up hope. Be well, Travel wisely,

Tom

Poem: Mysteriously, the sun rises

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Mysteriously, the sun rises

Mysteriously
the sun rises
over the water,
over the trees
over your darkened soul.

Light
after dark,
after the pain,
some of it yours to own,
some of it beyond your control,
beyond even, your understanding.

Light,
predictable, a cycle
of life
that sometimes you claim
and other times miss altogether,
your eyes shut in fear or spite.

And so you stand on the shore.
You breathe in the thing you worship.
You breathe out the agony you live.
Beathe in the warmth.
Breath out the emptyness,
and begin
again.

About this poem

The light is there. We have to let it in.

The picture was taken on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

Tom

Poem: Broken Things

IMG_0965 Broken Things

A few odd things sit on the mantle,
none of them perfect,
one or two of them broken,
keepsakes of a life lived imperfectly,

but well worth remembering,
a tale of untold stories and truths
hidden behind a mild exterior,
of a heart that beats too fast
and a mind that works slowly,
laboring to keep up,
laboring to make sense of it’s own wildness,
it’s hunger to know God and love
and make sense of the madness and the beauty
and the hope you carry
when all the evidence says that hope
is madness indeed.

And these things?
They have little value,
save to remind you of the journey,
and that even when things are broken,
they have value.

About this poem

One of my most persistent sayings is “We are all a little broken.”.  That brokenness does not rob us of value. But it does make it hard for some people to understand and see the treasure within. If you find someone who treasures your brokenness as much as your beauty…… it’s a wonderful thing.

Tom

Poem: Psalm 96:1

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Psalm 96:1

The darkness can no longer hold you.
Yes, it can batter you with it’s lies,
tear at you with ancient fears,
return in the night with it’s dark whispers,

It can invade your mornings,
tie you to the floor of your own dungeon.
It can mock you.

But you have tasted the light.
You know its power

surpasses all, and sets you free.

About this poem

Inspired by my morning devotions, Psalm 96:1 reads “Sing to the Lord a new song. Sing to the Lord all the earth.”  This is an early Easter poem, and also a poem for all of us who have been bound and break free, one strand at a time, casting off the ropes of doubt, depression, or whatever else holds us back.

Tom